- One-sided relationships, in which you make many sacrifices for your partner’s happiness and their needs, often at the expense of your own needs or happiness, are often considered to be codependent.
- Codependency in a relationship isn’t considered a feature of a healthy, secure relationship.
- Knowing whether or not you might be codependent is important because being aware of what’s going on is the first step in addressing your patterns.
- If you need help breaking some of these patterns, a therapist may be able to provide that help.
Codependency isn’t generally considered to be a healthy relationship dynamic, but the lines between being a caring, thoughtful partner working to make their relationship work and truly being codependent can sometimes be sort of difficult to parse. Since knowing that you’re codependent (or in some sort of codependent relationship) can be one of the first things in changing your ways, it’s important to recognise what those signs might be.
From looking to have someone else make your decisions for you to letting people walk all over you or putting someone else above yourself, the signs that you’re codependent can range from subtle to more obvious.
You’re not able to establish boundaries.
Establishing boundaries in relationships is important. But if you don’t feel the need to establish any or find yourself unable to do so, that could potentially indicate that you might be codependent. “People who are codependent tend to get too close, too fast, and overshare,” therapist Erin Parisi, LMHC, MCAP, told INSIDER.
“A codependent person may be ‘all in’ in a relationship very early on, making major commitments like moving in without spending enough time getting to know their partner.”
You feel like you need to control your partner.
Relationships shouldn’t be about controlling other people, so if that’s a characteristic of yours, there might be something a bit off about the dynamic. Parisi said that if you have “intense reactions when other people don’t do what you think they should do,” that is one indicator that you might be codependent. Additionally, as Weena Cullins, LCMFT, a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER, “It’s also a red flag to over-function in another person’s life when our motivation is to be wanted and accepted in return.”
If you’re doing things for your partner because you think that otherwise, they won’t do what you want them to do or act in a way that you want them to act, that’s another potential sign that you might be codependent.
You take on other people’s problems.
It’s normal and natural to want to help out when someone you care about is having a problem, but if you have a tendency to take on their problems like they’re yours and not theirs, that could be a sign that you’re codependent.
“While some of these behaviours are normal to exhibit when we care about another person, they become problematic when we cross over into an unhealthy space of doing “too much” and not being able to stop,” Cullins explained.
You want others to make your decisions for you.
It can be difficult to make your own decisions sometimes without any outside perspective, particularly if they’re big decisions that could affect people other than just you (even just indirectly). But if you regularly look to others to decide things for you (whether big or small), that could mean that there’s some codependency there.
“If you aren’t first checking in with yourself or feel like you need others to make decisions for you, it’s overriding your sense of self as well as your independence from the other person,” Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER.
Ultimately, what you want still matters and it can be hard to know just what that is if you’re letting other people make those decisions without thinking about yourself.
You let people walk all over you.
Letting people walk all over your is another potential sign of codependency, according to Cullins. Asserting your own independence and standing up for yourself is important (even if you might sometimes find it challenging to do so). Letting others run your life – like with making decisions for you – takes your sense of self out of the mix.
You take care of someone else at the expense of yourself.
Of course, taking care of others, particularly those you love, is not inherently a bad thing. It’s a normal and natural thing, but if you’re taking care of your partner at your own expense, unable to care for yourself or giving them so much time, money, attention, or love, that you’re unable to devote any of those resources to yourself, that’s when it veers into codependency, Cullins said.
That’s why boundaries are so important. Yes, you want to care for others, especially when they need it most, but you also need to be able to care for yourself.
You move quickly from one relationship to the next.
Moving from one relationship to the next without taking much (or any) time in between is another potential sign of codependency. Parisi said that this could be because you’re afraid to be alone. Wanting a partner to share life with isn’t a bad thing, but feeling as though you can’t function without someone else around is something else.
Your identity is closely associated with your partner.
If you can’t separate your own identity, interests, and the like from that of your partner, that’s another potential sign that you might be codependent. “You take on certain traits, hobbies, interests, style of dress, music preferences, tv shows based on your partner du jour,” Parisi explained. Not only that, but you do some of these things in order to make your partner happy, regardless of how it affects you.
“Codependency shows up in relationships where a person starts to lose their capacity to recognise their own feelings, needs, and desires, usually in an effort to accommodate their partner,” Erin K. Tierno, LCSW, a psychotherapist, told INSIDER.
Another person’s problems greatly affect you.
It can be difficult not to let someone else’s problems affect you when they’re clearly affecting the person you love, but if they affect you too much, that could be a sign of codependency, Cullins said. You still have to find the balance between caring and adhering to the boundaries that help you take care of your own needs.
You feel guilty when you want or have to stick up for yourself.
“You feel guilty for sticking up for yourself, thinking everyone else’s needs are more important than yours,” Parisi explained. If that’s the case, that could be another sign that you might be codependent. Standing up for yourself is important. Fighting for what you need or deserve is important. But if you’re codependent, it might not be something that you can do very easily without feeling seriously guilty.
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